In 2012 and 2013, we worked to make sure that port strikes did not affect the textile and apparel importing community.
The collective bargaining agreement between the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX) at ports across the East Coast was set to expire on September 30, 2012. On December 7, 2012, the United States Fashion Industry Association (formerly USA-ITA) signed a letter urging the ILA and USMX to “make every attempt possible at reaching an agreement on a new contract” in the East Coast ports labor negotiations. The letter states, “The West Coast lockout 10 years ago cost the U.S. economy $1 billion a day and it took over six months to recover from the 11-day closure. The East Coast and Gulf Coast ports and their customers cannot afford a similar situation.” On December 20, 2012, USFIA (formerly USA-ITA) signed a letter to President Obama urging him to get involved in the negotiations before the contract expired. After a series of contentious negotiations, the agreement was extended to December 29, 2012, helping to avoid a strike during the busy holiday season. On January 10, 2013, after the contract was extended to February 6th, USFIA (formerly USA-ITA) again signed a letter to the parties urging them to focus on negotiating a long-term contract. In March 2013, the groups sent an approved six-year contract to members for ratification.
A similar situation occurred on the West Coast. On November 27, 2012, the Marine Clerk Office Clerical Unit Local 63 (OCU), a unit of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) representing approximately 600 workers, broke off contract negotiations with 14 marine terminal employers in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. The OCU set up picket lines at 10 of the 14 terminals at the two ports, and operations were effectively shut down for eight days. These port facilities are some of the busiest in the nation, and critical for importers of textiles and apparel who do business in Asia. On December 4, 2012, USFIA (formerly USA-ITA) joined nearly 100 business groups and associations in sending a letter to President Obama urging the Administration to engage in the dispute and help the parties negotiate. The West Coast port strike ended on December 5, 2012.